Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Batchloading MARC Bibliographic Records: Current Practices and Future Challenges in Large Research Libraries

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Batchloading MARC Bibliographic Records: Current Practices and Future Challenges in Large Research Libraries

Article excerpt

Research libraries are using batchloading to provide access to many resources that they would otherwise be unable to catalog given the staff and other resources available. To explore how such libraries are managing their batchloading activities, the authors conducted a survey of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services Directors of Large Research Libraries Interest Group member libraries. The survey addressed staffing, budgets, scope, workflow, management, quality standards, information technology support, collaborative efforts, and assessment of batchloading activities. The authors provide an analysis of the survey results along with suggestions for process improvements and future research.


Batchloading MARC bibliographic records into libraries' online catalogs has become an increasingly common and necessary means of providing access to the electronic and microform resources that libraries collect or to which they provide access. While individual libraries are challenged to create title-level metadata for large collections like Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online, e-book collections from publishers such as Springer, Wiley, and Elsevier, and microform collections such as Papers of the NAACP and the Congressional Information Service CIS Congressional Committee Hearings on Microfiche, 1833-1969, batchloading records improves discoverability and ensures that a library's digital and microform holdings are accurately reflected by the catalog. Bibliographic records for large collections may be provided by the publisher, the aggregator, or a third-party vendor or utility, such as OCLC. Some collections are finite while others may grow over time, presenting the challenge of performing batchloads periodically for a single collection.

The acquisition of electronic and microform collections and their accompanying bibliographic records present many challenges to technical services and other units involved in batchloading activities. Maintaining consistent record quality can be problematic. Vendors, including publishers, aggregators, and bibliographic utilities such as OCLC, often supply bibliographic records for collections that libraries purchase or to which they license access. These vendors do not follow consistently the cataloging standards that libraries have been accustomed to applying in their online catalogs. As licensed or purchased collections grow, many libraries have turned to acquiring bibliographic records for them. These ongoing updates can become a heavy workload issue for technical services and other units. Notifications of additional bibliographic record availability 'also can be problematic because some vendors do not have effective notification systems.

This paper reports on a study that examined how batchloading activities in large research libraries affect staffing, budgets, workflow, and the quality of records in the catalog. It examines how these libraries manage batchloading activities, how information technology issues support or hinder batchloading activities, and how libraries assess the effectiveness of batchloadlng. The authors also explore how libraries work together to address some of the issues presented by batchloading activities and needs. In the current economic climate, libraries must adopt and refine the most cost-effective methods available for facilitating access to digital collections. The methods chosen inevitably will be affected by high-level policy questions, many of which remain to be answered. The authors hope the survey will reveal some of the methods currently in use and point the way to further innovation and improvement.

Literature Review

As a relatively new practice, MARC bibliographic record batchloading has a limited literature, but the authors found seven useful examples. One offers a valuable overview, three present case studies, two address issues of record quality, and one focuses on the impact of batchloading on users. …

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